The Financial Reality of Insta-Fame

Putting aside the highly edited photos currently showcased on my intentionally un-intentional Instagram feed (and that my husband always eats his dinner cold), the biggest secret of all is the money involved. I’m a food blogger. I buy pecorino, pomegranate and limes for superfluous garnishes and have a cupboard in my kitchen designated for blog props, so yes, it’s an expensive hobby. But let’s look beyond my Coles receipts. Unfortunately for some brands that’d rather it was kept hush-hush, the other secret is becoming a little more obvious. Paid content.

So what exactly are we talking about here? Hundreds? Thousands? Lots of thousands? If we’re talking lots of thousands, I’m quitting my day job and calling up Old El Paso. It’s fair to say that influential Instagrammers (those with a high engagement rate) earn anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per post and in some cases, per hour before the post is removed. Things really escalated when the Miranda’s and Kim’s of the world joined the band wagon, earning up to… wait for it…$400,000 per post.


Personally, I blame Instagram for the lack of fashionably inept teenagers roaming our streets these days. Instagram and maybe the Kardashians. Where’s the bad eye liner phase, the low jeans phase and over applying lip-gloss phase? Now it’s all perfect makeup, hair for days and a wardrobe that I long for. And the brands? They’re soaking it all up. Instagram is where we are finding our idols. Famous has diversified and they are the “real” famous people. Followers are now currency. If you’re low on cash but have an adorable cat that’s willing to put up with your constant photos or have the world’s smallest kitchen but can edit your way through Lightbox, you’re a sure thing to 100,000 followers. Which could potentially mean $100,000.

Here’s the catch though. It isn’t about your numbers. It’s about how you engage with those numbers. With a casual four million online followers, A Bikini A Day extraordinaire duo Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman measure their success against their ability to spread positivity and support women’s confidence, rather than the income they generate. With brands like Seafolly, Sunglass Hut and Missguided under their belt though, it’s pretty clear they’re doing alright on that front too.


A Saturday cup of tea with @dressedincopper and @collectivehub 🌼🌼🌼

A post shared by A Bikini A Day (@abikiniaday) on

But before you go handing in your resignation, you’ll need a minimum of 5,000 followers to get anyone’s attention, around three-four years’ worth of content and a whole lotta time. Optus and I are the only ones that really know how much time I spend on my phone, but I’ll admit, as a wannabe blogger, it’s enough of an annoyingly large amount of time that even I get irritated by it. As a general post-a-day rule, we’re talking roughly around the two hours a day mark. Shameful I know. I consider my blog and my Instagram obsessed fingers a part-time job, and that couldn’t be more true. In my evenings I shop, I cook, I photograph, I edit, I blog, I publish, I post on social media. By 10:00pm I’m all about eating ice-cream, hiding my phone from myself and watching Breaking Bad like a normal 29-year-old. Oh yeah, and my husband.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that I’ve chosen not to earn money from my account and rather grow my brand organically. If we learnt anything from MySpace, it’s that you may want to diversify your strategy and think long haul. Still, it’s plain to see that there is money to be made in this game – just Google “influencer agency” and you’ll see how many businesses there are connecting people with followers with people with cash.

The bottom line though? The reality of this industry is far far away in a land of make believe, otherwise known as selfie sticks and a solid Valencia filter. But I never say never and you gotta be in it to win it… so I suggest changing your name to Kendall and get posting.


Holly is the lady behind the food blog, The Wandering Matilda. She has spent the last five years writing and cooking across Europe and Asia. Follow her wanders @thewanderingmatilda.

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